On the last day of the legislative session, Democratic lawmakers passed a few mild tenant protections.
Last-minute amendments were added to Senate Bill 151 — legislation that previously passed both houses and slightly extends the time frame for evictions — which allows people to retrieve essential items such as medication, basic clothing and baby formula following an eviction, and puts late fees for unpaid rent at 5 percent.
The move comes after Senate Bill 256, which sought to enhance tenant rights, died in early May.
Sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela, SB 256 would have prevented a landlord from applying rent payments to outstanding fees — when a landlord does this, it means rent is technically unpaid and a tenant could face eviction — and would have also required landlords to return security deposits in less than three weeks opposed to 30 days under the current law.
SB 256 was opposed heavily by Realtors, who called the legislation a “slap in the face.” Housing advocates say Realtors are lobbying against the last minute additions to SB151 as well.
Expanding tenant protections and changing eviction laws is a multi-pronged approach for lawmakers to deal with the state’s affordable housing crisis.
Note: This story was updated to reflect the amendments passage.